Facts and figures about UK taxes, benefits and public spending.
Income distribution, poverty and inequality.
Analysing government fiscal forecasts and tax and spending.
Analysis of the fiscal choices an independent Scotland would face.
Case studies that give a flavour of the areas where IFS research has an impact on society.
Reforming the tax system for the 21st century.
A peer-reviewed quarterly journal publishing articles by academics and practitioners.
In these frequent observations, we look at aspects of topical issues related to our research programme. To sign up to receive email alerts when new observations are posted, please email Bonnie Brimstone.
The Office for Budget Responsibility's first 'Fiscal Sustainability Report' - published today - sets out some of the long-term challenges facing the UK's public finances. Demographic pressures alone could raise spending by £80 billion in today's terms by 2060, with a particularly striking increase required in health spending. Tax revenues, especially from oil and petrol, are also under pressure. Long term fiscal sustainability will require hard choices even after the unprecedented fiscal retrenchment planned for the next few years.
Today the Environmental Audit Committee published a report focusing on the implications of Budget 2011 for environmental taxes. One of the key recommendations was that in order to 'build trust and acceptance of environmental taxes', consideration should be given to 'greater use of at least partial hypothecation of revenues from environmental taxes [for environmental ends].' We argue that earmarking revenues in this way would be at best meaningless and at worst inefficient, and that a case for increased green taxes ought to be argued on its own merits.
The Equalities Act 2010 places an obligation on the government to give 'due consideration' to the effects of its policies on gender inequalities. The IFS was asked by the Fawcett society to consider ways in which our tax and benefit microsimulation model, TAXBEN could be used as part of an assessment of the separate impact of Budget measures on men and women. We have today published some simple analysis that does this.
Today the IFS published a detailed examination of what happened to living standards, to poverty and to inequality over Labour's 13 years in office. Amongst other findings, this shows that income inequality rose under Labour. Much of the explanation for this can be found in the fast growth in the incomes of the very richest, and in particular of the incomes of just the top one or two percent. These very high earners have seen their incomes pull away from those of the large majority.
Until recently microfinance - the extension of very small loans to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship - was cheered as an excellent policy to alleviate poverty. But more recently such policies have been viewed less favourably. What does the evidence show on the effectiveness of such schemes, and how can they be reformed to operate better?
On Monday the Government published its long advertised Green Paper on state pension reform. Much press speculation has suggested that this would lead to a flat rate pension of £140 a week for all new pensioners from 2015. But the commitments that the Government have made not to increase public spending on pensions and to honour pension rights that have already been accrued means that introducing such a pension will not be possible on anything like this timetable.
This government, alongside most of its predecessors, is concerned about social mobility. As the coalition government prepares to launch its own strategy for tackling social mobility, recent work at IFS exploring the literature on social mobility has highlighted some important conclusions that the government would be wise to bear in mind.
Yesterday, the Government announced the details of a new bursary scheme to replace the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The funding for this will total £180m, of which £15m is reserved for a £1,200 annual grant for vulnerable children. The remaining £165m will form a discretionary fund that schools and colleges will distribute to students deemed to have the greatest need. In this observation, we analyse how this fund could be structured and its potential impact on students.
Public service pension reforms: an improved structure, but impact on generosity and cost as yet unknown
The final report of Lord Hutton's Independent Public Service Pensions Commission has been published today. The proposed reforms would improve the structure of public service pensions considerably and some elements would certainly lead to some public sector workers receiving substantially less generous pensions. But the overall generosity of the schemes, and therefore the cost to the taxpayer, will depend on key decisions left for the Government to make.
Rapid increases in pump prices have sparked renewed debate on the level of fuel duties, with calls for the Chancellor to cancel April's planned real-terms increase in the forthcoming Budget. There is also continued speculation about the prospect of a "fair fuel stabiliser". What are the facts and how should we assess these proposals?
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